1. NBA 2014 PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS - WEST [SPORTS]

    This blog is like 90% music and 10% other. Today, we have some of the “other” — it’s NBA playoff predictions from Caleb Sarvis. Eastern Conference predictions happened earlier, and now it’s time for the Western Conference. Enjoy!

    It’s my favorite time of the year! NBA Playoffs have arrived and begin Saturday night in one the more interesting line ups I’ve seen in the last couple of years. I’m here to bring my predictions and offer what I believe matters in each series. After all, the NBA playoffs is always about two things: 1) Who is the best player in the series? 2) Matchups. I’ll post this preview in two installments; one for the East, one for the West.

    Western Conference

    (1) San Antonio vs (8) Dallas

    In the regular season the Spurs swept the Mavericks 4 games to none, but don’t count out Dirk and Monta just yet. The Spurs have become the first team since the NBA-ABA Merger to not have a single player average 30 minutes a game. I think we can agree that well-rested is an understatement. The veteran leadership of Dirk, VC, and Marion have made the critics (including myself) of Monta Ellis look like fools. He found a place to thrive in… but only for a game or two. Coach Pop and the resilient Spurs may not sweep the Mavs, but they’ll dispose of them easily.

    PREDICTION: San Antonio in 5.

    (2) Oklahoma City vs (7) Memphis

    Kendrick Perkins is the most irritating player in this series. He’s slow on rotations and I don’t think I’ve seen him jump this entire season. Fortunately for the Thunder, they have Kevin Durant. The Grizzlies are going to be able to pound the ball low with Gasol and Z-Bo. I love Ibaka, but shot blocking ability isn’t going to be enough to stop Randolph in the post. Look for the Thunder to double down low and force the Grizzlies to shoot from the perimeter. Also, keep an eye on the Conley-Westbrook matchup. Conley might be the most underrated point guard in the league. He’s definitely top 5 this season and will bother Westbrook with his peskiness, forcing Westbrook to take contested jumpers. But in the end, KD is KD.

    PREDICTION: Thunder in 6.

    (3) Los Angeles vs (6) Golden State

    Most interesting matchup by far… until Andrew Bogut broke his rib. These teams split the regular season with Golden State firing on all cylinders in their win. Bogut is a solid presence in the paint and presented a real challenge for Blake and DeAndre before breaking his rib. Now, the paint is wide open for Blake, who may be the best player in this series. His rebounding has gone down every year, but Blake has excellent ball handling for a power forward, his footwork in the post has only gotten better, and on top of all that, he can now shoot regularly from about 15 feet out. Steph Curry is going to light it up, and Klay Thompson is going to contribute, but on the defensive end, GSW is lacking. Unless GSW wants to switch Iguodala onto CP3, I don’t see how Chris Paul doesn’t have a field day with the Warriors’ guards. Then again, Steph Curry could drop 40-10 in the blink of an eye.

    PREDICTION: Clippers in 7.

    (4) Houston vs (5) Portland

    This is going to be a lot of fun to watch. I love Damian Lillard. I love James Harden. I love LaMarcus Aldridge. I love Chandler Parsons. Heck, I can even dig a Dwight Howard – Robin Lopez battle down low. It’ll be like watching Jax from Mortal Kombat battling Sideshow Bob from The Simpsons. The reality is that Houston is built to win this series. James Harden is officially the best 2-guard in the league and rightly so. Dwight Howard is no longer the best center, but he still has the ability to throw down 30-20 on any given night. Also, don’t forget PATRICK BEVERLY. He destroyed Westbrook’s knee last year and could be after Damian Lillard this year. Never take your eyes off Patrick Beverly. EVER.

    PREDICTION: Rockets in 5.

    In case you missed it, we had the Eastern Conference preview earlier today. Check it out!

     


  2. NBA 2014 PLAYOFF PREDICTIONS - EAST [SPORTS]

    This blog is like 90% music and 10% other. Today, we have some of the “other” — it’s NBA playoff predictions from Caleb Sarvis. Eastern Conference predictions now, Western Conference predictions in a couple hours. Enjoy!

    It’s my favorite time of the year! NBA Playoffs have arrived and begin Saturday night in one the more interesting line ups I’ve seen in the last couple of years. I’m here to bring my predictions and offer what I believe matters in each series. After all, the NBA playoffs is always about two things: 1) Who is the best player in the series? 2) Matchups. I’ll post this preview in two installments; one for the East, one for the West.

    Eastern Conference

    (1) Indiana vs (8) Atlanta

    Fun fact: Both of Atlanta’s wins over Indiana came by double digits this year. This doesn’t surprise me. Indiana can’t score. They are 24th in the league in PPG but they are second PAPG (Chicago is 1st). Indiana has an elite defense, there’s no question about it, but they can’t seem to get the ball in the basket as frequently as a title contender should. I believe in Paul George and Roy Hibbert, but I have no faith in George Hill. Lance Stephenson might light it up for a game or two, but he also might stink it up for three games or four. On the other side, Paul Millsap was quietly one of the best offseason pickups this year. The Teague-Millsap-Horford triangle could outscore the Pacers struggling offense, though I find the odds against them.

    PREDICTION: Pacers in 6.

    (2) Miami vs (7) Charlotte

    Neither of these teams are the same team they were a year ago, but that might be a good thing. Miami has played about 30 games without Dwyane Wade this season, and still managed a 54 win season. Why? LeBron James. But other than that, Miami has a solid offensive identity. They are more than willing to share the ball and have more depth on the bench than they know what to do with. Charlotte is continuously growing, and the Kemba-MKG combination is coming into form. Factor in the addition of Al Jefferson (greatest offseason pick up this year), and the Bobcats could sneak in a win, especially if Miami doesn’t switch off “coast-mode.” The Bobcats aren’t going to crash the offensive boards as a way to limit Miami in transition, allowing Miami to hide their greatest weakness. My matchup to watch? Jefferson and Bosh.

    PREDICTION: Heat in 5.

    (3) Toronto vs (6) Brooklyn

    Despite the seeding, I think this is the most difficult matchup to predict in the East. Toronto has proven themselves to be a top seed in the East. Kyle Lowry has proven himself to be one of the top point guards in the league, and like Monta Ellis, he just needed to find a system that worked. Demar DeRozan and Terence Ross can explode at any point, and Toronto could easily shoot their way to the next round. They are top 10 in the league in defense, and top 13 in scoring. This could happen. But Brooklyn has been the hottest team in the East since January 1st. They’ve proven they can hang with the best, and despite losing Brook Lopez, they’ve been great. I think at this point, Toronto is the more talented team, but experience means something.

    PREDICTION: Nets in 7.

    (4) Chicago vs (5) Washington

    Chicago has the best defense in the league, and also has the worst offense in the league. Trading away Luol Deng was a move for the future and a solid business decision, but it took away some of their fire power. I think Joakim Noah, despite my overall distaste for him, has been the best center in the league this year, and DJ Augustin has come into his own. Taj Gibson is the man and Thibs never backs down. That said, I mentioned before that basketball is about matchups, and if I’m Washington, I’m much happier about this matchup than I would’ve been if we were facing Toronto. Nene and Gortat can battle down low with Chicago and Wall/Beal can handle the perimeter. Washington is shaky, but expect them to rise to the occasion. Bold claim? Trevor Booker aka La Bibliotreva (you’re welcome) is going to average 15 rebounds. Bolder claim?

    PREDICTION: Wizards in 6.

    Check back in a couple hours for the Western Conference predictions!

     


  3. SEACATS - “UR NEW BF” [MUSIC]

    Just in case you didn’t get enough capitalization earlier this week with Missoula’s BOYS, today we give you Kelso, WA’s SEACATS. They’re on Fin Records, which you may recall one of last month’s features is also on (see: Lures). Hooray for cool labels!

    SEACATS, then. Just two hours and a letter swap away from SeaTac, these guys have a very tongue-in-cheek aesthetic, and they play some stuff that sounds like an amalgam of early Weezer and pop-punk. Don’t let that scare you. I meant it as a compliment. I’m sure they’re tired of hearing “early Weezer” comparisons, but they’re definitely there, and as far as the pop-punk thing, that’s more noticeable in some of the songwriting (heartfelt, honest, personal) and vocal melodies (bouncy, catchy, SEACATchy even). Also, there’s always one point in this album (early in "Firewood") where the vocals (and the rhythms) are reminiscent of Dismemberment Plan.

    I saw SEACATS for the first time a few weeks ago when they played a show with Hurricane Season and Dedere, and even though the show was in an odd space (a fish’n’chip shop), I still wanted to buy the record afterward. I can’t stress enough how great a show they put on, complete with multi-instrumentalism galore. There’s no two ways about it: this band is fucking talented, man.

    You can check out the video for “Minus World” on their YouTube channel. It’s silly as all hell, but it’s really a great video. They’ve also got new music coming in the next month or so. Go to their Bandcamp and download the self-titled album in the mean time — it’s great, you won’t regret it. If you prefer a physical copy, head over to the Fin Records shop. Like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @seacatsband.

    Attn: more capitalization ahead! Our featured track from SEACATS is “UR NEW BF”. The songwriting here is a testament to their gift for melody. Here’s the first verse for example: Your new boyfriend, well he’s so controlling, but to be fair, he’s got his reasons to worry. We’ve got history, and I’ve got home field advantage, but I won’t try a thing, cause you know I am a gentleman. And that’s actually something you get a lot with this act — verses carried by melody. Many artists fall into a trap of forcing rhymes to kind of spoon-feed the listener, but allowing for a more fluid approach to songwriting works really well with SEACATS’ style. Instrumentally, this song is really nicely layered, and there is a surprisingly high amount of synths involved, which is dicey territory in this genre — synths can so easily sound cheeseball. Fortunately, SEACATS pull it all off with flying colors, mixing them in so they’re just right.

    You can find “UR NEW BF” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! April 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on April 30!

     


  4. BOYS - “STARTING TO QUIT” [MUSIC]

    Last week, I spent a few days in the quaint town of Missoula, Montana, and while on the whole it’s nothing special, there are a few bright spots. One of those bright spots is the surprisingly bustling music scene, spearheaded by local favorites BOYS. Today, they’re on the blog.

    BOYS has a sound that catches you easily — it’s equal parts fuzzed-out, blues-influenced riffs, melodic vocal phrases, and surfy, 60s rhythm parts. Kamikaze is the latest proper album from BOYS, and it showcases their flexibility while maintaining a consistent cohesiveness. “Hogtied” and “Bernard Mickey Wrangle” are two pretty different tracks for example, one being more bluesy and the other more surfy, respectively, but they both fit in on the record, playing their roles.

    Since Kamikaze, they’ve released a couple singles that lean toward the surf-rock end of the spectrum, which I personally prefer over the blues-influenced stuff. You can find more of their music on Bandcamp, and you can like them over on Facebook.

    "Starting To Quit" is one of the latest singles from BOYS, and what it immediately brings to mind for me is the C86 compilation as well as the Sarah Records bands, progression-wise at least. The guitar tones on the track are nice and fuzzy, a common theme in BOYS’ compositions. My favorite parts are the second parts of the verses — I think the vocal melody there is way catchy. It’s also really cool how there’re those breaks for the guitar fills, like around the one minute mark for example. What’s cool about this track structurally is that you pretty much get two songs in one because what you assume is the bridge isn’t really a bridge at all — it’s essentially a second part that plays out all the way through. Wow! Two songs in three minutes! What a deal!

    You can find “Starting To Quit” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! April 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on April 30!

     


  5. GHOST TO FALCO - “THE RUDE AWAKE” [MUSIC]

    Every so often our features tend to sync up with real-life events, and today happens to be one of those days. The featured artist today is Ghost to Falco, and not only is their record Soft Shield out now, but they’ll also be playing their record-release show tonight at Bunk Bar with none other than Aan. It should be great. Maybe I’ll go take some photos and post them next week.

    Ghost to Falco is a Portland, OR-based project, headed by Eric Crespo that has featured a rotating cast of members throughout the years. As numerous others have said before me, the music of Ghost to Falco is pretty hard to classify, traversing many aural landscapes through the course of a single record (and at times, a single song even). Soft Shield feels like the soundtrack to a psychedelic western — like if we took Easy Rider but traded the bikes in for horses. What sticks out to me is the ease with which Crespo can alter the momentum of the record yet keep it cohesive, rather than turning it into a herky-jerky album, devoid of flow.

    You can go get Soft Shield on vinyl via Infinite Front, or you can grab the digital download on Bandcamp. While you’re at it, go ahead and like Ghost to Falco on Facebook, and if you’re in Portland tonight, come to Bunk Bar and catch the show!

    While a lot of Soft Shield is tense, “The Rude Awake” is the epitome of that tension. It opens with some low feedback, before descending into anxious kicks and a psychedelic, distorted guitar riff. This distorted guitar becomes the main vehicle to drive along the tension in the tune, sticking to a scale wrought with minor tones and a slight dissonance. My favorite part of this tune is the synth that comes in after the bridge to help fill out the low-end. It’s like a little saw synth, and it doesn’t do anything too complex, but it fits perfectly and really helps complete the tune.

    You can find “The Rude Awake” as well as the rest of this month’s featured tracks on the free download of the GB! April 2014 Mixtape, the latest in our monthly mixtape series. Come back and get it on April 30!